I spoke on a Landing Page Optimization panel at PubCon in Las Vegas last week, and the big learning I came away with is that more people are testing! It was pretty exciting to poll the audience on who’s currently testing and see well over 50% of the room raise their hands. Of those who weren’t, at least half raised their hands to the next question of who was planning on beginning within the next year.

That’s really encouraging news, especially in a downturn economy. It shows that marketers are realizing that testing is one of the few strategies that truly enable you to do more with less. Instead of having to invest linear amounts of money to acquire traffic, you can instead invest your ideas and hypotheses to increase conversion and revenue on your site.

I often find that the Q&A is the most interesting and engaging part of a session. It’s the closest we get to understanding what’s really on the minds of marketers today, and what they were hoping to learn from those of us on the panel. One of the questions that stuck in my mind was, “What are good strategies for optimizing social media traffic going to landing pages?”

To be honest, I didn’t have a great answer because I haven’t seen many tests involving social media traffic. Maybe it’s because we don’t have customers who are investing much in social media yet. But I thought about it more on the plane, and then at home, and I think the answer lies in going back to the standard best practices of first defining what your success event will be, and then forming a hypothesis around how to improve it.

For example, if you told me that you ran a content site and wanted to increase page views, I’d say that those who come from social media probably have a higher likelihood of sharing content with friends. My test idea might be to test promoting sharing links higher up on the page, or repeatedly throughout the article. But if you told me that you ran a retail site and you wanted to increase orders, I might try to promote highly-rated products based on the hypothesis that social media visitors place a greater premium on the opinions of peers.

Another question I got was, “Okay, you talk a lot about testing, but how do I test on my site? Do you sell a product?” Yikes, the dreaded vendor pitch trap! I have to admit there was a bit of spastic product naming as I tried to give a very neutral answer. I struggle quite a bit with the balance of giving information and opinions without selling any specific platform, both in places like PubCon and here in this blog. I know that you, as the reader, have come here knowing that it’s a corporate blog run by Omniture, but I also think that you’re more interested in learning about marketing principles and customer insights than about what we’re selling. So I err on the side of avoiding the product conversation completely, to the detriment of those who are already customers. Luckily, my very capable colleague, Brian Hawkins, has begun a blog recently about the ins and outs of Omniture Test&Target, so I would direct readers there for specifics on how to implement many of the examples and case studies we show.

The last question I have is for you, the marketer who attends conferences like PubCon. When you go to a session about landing page optimization, what are you hoping to hear? Are you looking for tactical advice, or customer case studies, or market research findings? Would you rather see a presentation that tells you about the latest marketing strategies and where we see the market going, or the one that lays out 10 easy tips to try on your site today?

Kate O'
Kate O'

I thought your presentation was pitch-perfect. Personally, when I attend events like PubCon, I want a blend of customer case studies, tactical advice, and market research findings. Yours was just that. I prefer the product plugging be kept to a minimum, and I thought you did a great job of that -- you even talked about the other tools that are available besides Omniture Test&Target, which is important for the audience to give credibility to what you say. And as you know, I know my way around testing :) and your answers to questions were spot-on. Thanks for doing the presentation (even while sick!). Your co-panelists were very good, too. It was one of my favorite sessions at the show.